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Penny ponders: Stories in stone

First Posted: 3:03 am - June 16th, 2015

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A call came around 1:05 a.m. on Wednesday, June 10 that the iconic Warm Springs Bulloch House was on fire. The blaze took more than three hours to bring under control. Many of the Upson community and surrounding counties have fond memories of eating at the historic restaurant. The Bulloch House was built in 1893 by Benjamin F. Bulloch, cofounder of Bullochville, now Warm Springs. In 1990, it was converted into the restaurant many of us loved to take friends and family. When my mother and sister visited for Christmas from Colorado a few years ago, one of the places that they visited was the Bulloch House. Now the restaurant is gone; its history in stone burned away, leaving just the memories for many of us who visited this once lovely building.

When an historic building is engulfed in fire, it takes a little part of us with it. Many of us remember when the old Community Center School , later known as the North Thomaston School building, was destroyed by a raging fire on Monday, August 17, 2009. What a loss! A grassy expanse of land sits where once this 1929 building sat. The building is lost, but memories of its history are forever captured in photographs at the Thomaston-Upson Archives.

As with any community, historic houses fall to disrepair, are torn down or end their lives to natural disaster. Some survive. In Upson County, there are still many homes that carry stories in stone. On the City of Thomaston website, click on the “history” link and print up the self-guided driving tour of Thomaston. For history buffs, this might be something fun to do this summer from the comfort of an air-conditioned car. A map with some of our historic places noted with letters of the alphabet make it easy to find these buildings with stories.

On the map, location “B” is the Fincher Building on South Center Street. This is the oldest existing building on the downtown square. The second floor was originally hotel rooms before being converted into offices in the early twentieth century. On this site, the first Upson newspaper, the Hickory Nut and Vigil was published in the 1830s. The office of Dr. John L. Cheney was also located in an earlier building at this site. His famous Cheney’s Expectorant, a remedy throughout the south, was first manufactured here. On the tour, is written, “Currently, Traditions, a gift store.” Traditions is no longer located at this location. Businesses change locations; it is once again the site of the Thomaston-Upson Arts Council. Stop and see the stained glass Fincher sign from inside the building from when it was Fincher’s Jewelry store. And while you are there, enjoy the art on display. The days TUAC is open are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Wednesday, 10 a.m. until noon.

Mentioned on the city driving tour is a local museum. Cruise past the Pettigrew-White-Stamps House on Andrews Drive, the second oldest house in Thomaston, dating from around 1833. This home is the museum of the Upson Historical Society and is full of all sorts of local history. Anyone wanting free tours can call the Thomaston-Upson Archives at 706-646-2437 to schedule a tour with an UHS board member.

Upson County boasts a rich heritage, and each historic building is full of fascinating tales. Winston Churchill said it best, “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”

Penny Cliff is the Chief Archivist at the Thomaston-Upson Archives and an adjunct faculty member of the History Department at Gordon State College and University in Barnesville.

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